Showing posts from August, 2010

Travel Tips for Social Entrepreneurs

I'm just wrapping up a week of conversation on Social Edge, entitled Travel Tips for Social Entrepreneurs . I'm fascinated not only with the big questions in the social entrepreneurship field, but also the practical practices of doing the job of social entrepreneur better. One of those practices is how to travel as cost effectively as possible. The conversation ranged over how to use Priceline, choosing socially responsible travel products and an idea for staying with other social entrepreneurs. Here's how I kicked off the conversation: We spend a lot of time talking about the big picture issues around social change. But, sometimes it’s important to get practical and talk about nuts and bolts issues. Being a social entrepreneur is all about doing more with less. So, how do you stretch your travel dollars? As a social entrepreneur who is typically on the road more than half the time, I find myself thinking about this a lot. What’s the tradeoff between saving time and sav

Making Exercise Equipment Accessible

Benetech doesn't make tangible stuff: we've decided that our expertise is in making electronic bits. Software and content are easily scaled up. But, the world still needs tangible things, and the market often fails to deliver them. Rich Thesing, a long-time disability activist and fellow Fellow of the American Leadership Forum in Silicon Valley, has been thinking hard on how to make exercise equipment accessible. As someone was injured as a result of an accident, Rich knows that there can be severe consequences for people with these kinds of disabilities if they don't maintain muscle tone in their limbs. There are lots of exercycles that are in health clubs and exercise rooms around the world, but they lack minor accessibility features to make them usable. Most people who are quads have partial use of their limbs, for example, little use of their legs but partial use of their arms. Rich's problem is that he can get his first foot onto the pedal and strapped in, b

A Modest Complaint to Bookshare

Thanks to incredible work on the part of socially responsible publishers, our volunteers and the Bookshare team, we've been adding books at at incredible rate: more than 10,000 books in the last month. As a result, I recently received the following complaint letter from one of our long-term members, Chancey Fleet: Jim, I would like to register a complaint! Bookshare is piling on books faster than I can read the titles. Ever since I was a kid, I was a title glutton. I went through every catalog the NLS had and every Braille Book Review. I did the same later with Web Braille, and whole months have gone by during which I knew every book that hit the collection. This was viable, maybe even adaptive behaviour in a climate of scarcity. I could pluck out a handful of the finite number of books on offer and leave the rest, and if I didn’t have absolute choice, I at least got to be sure I wasn’t missing anything. Not. Anymore. Bookshare is adding so much content that favourite authors of m

Exciting Social Enterprise Group I met at the Skoll World Forum

One of the more interesting people I met at the Oxford Skoll meeting this year was Raja Moubarak, founder of Winquest . Raja is a seasoned business executive with senior level experience in multinationals (Coca-Cola, B&W/BAT, BOC Group, Societe Generale) in Europe, Asia and in multiple Middle East/North African countries (MENA), as an entrepreneur and as Managing Director of one of the oldest retail groups in the MENA region. His idea is straightforward: he believe the Middle East/North Africa region is ripe for values-centered for-profit social enterprises that can both make plenty of money and deliver social benefits. With his long expertise in bringing products to this region, he's working to find connections with companies interested in expanding into this area. But, just companies that have social good as a crucial part of their DNA. It's probably not a coincidence that the Obama Administration is focusing efforts on entrepreneurship in the Muslim world: there'